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Bone Clone

Computer modelling reveals the secrets of bone strength

19 January 2020

Bone Clone

Found near the ends of our most stressed bones, trabeculae, are crisscross structures similar to shock absorbing beams and columns found inside skyscrapers. Although 1000 times smaller – the patterns of plates and rods in bone make them especially strong. Researchers built computer models of our tiny bone buildings, testing them to destruction with different stresses and strains. Recreating the strongest patterns in this blue polymer, they discovered designs that may be bio-mimicked in the design of real buildings. Their models also suggest the secret to lasting bone strength is the thickness of the horizontal beams (seen running through the diamond-shaped holes here). Making these 30% thicker increased the lifetime of the material a hundred times, One day these designs may influence transplants for sufferers of osteoporosis, where trabeculae are often lost.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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